WolfWalkers and Irish Mythology

The Lycanthropic Lore Behind the Oscar-Nominated Animated Feature

Erik Devaney
6 min readApr 10, 2021


photo of a wolf howling in the woods
Photo by matan elihay on Unsplash

It was only a matter of time before I wrote a post about WolfWalkers, one of my favorite films (animated or otherwise) of the past year.

Then, a couple of days ago, I saw the news: Tomm Moore and the other creative geniuses at the Kilkenny, Ireland-based animation studio Cartoon Saloon had released a new book: The Art of WolfWalkers.

cover art for the book The Art WolfWalkers

Written by Charles Solomon, the author of several other books that explore the origins of animated features (including The Art of Frozen, The Toy Story Films: An Animated Journey, and The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation), The Art of WolfWalkers offers a behind-the-scenes look at the research, sketches, script notes, and storyboards that went into the creation of this Academy Award-nominated, hand-drawn masterpiece.

For me, perhaps not surprisingly, I was most interested in the section on the Irish folktales the filmmakers turned to for inspiration, most notably of which was The Man-Wolves of Ossory.

But look at me, getting ahead of myself. Let’s turn tail and lope back a few steps.

What is WolfWalkers about? (And why is it so fur-raisingly awesome?)

movie poster for WolfWalkers depicting a red-haired girl riding a wolf
U.S. theatrical release poster for WolfWalkers (source: impawards.com)

Directed by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, WolfWalkers (2020) is the final installment in Moore’s “Irish Folklore Trilogy,” following his previous Celtic fantasy adventure films Song of the Sea (2014) and The Secret of Kells (2009)—both of which (like WolfWalkers) earned Oscar noms for Best Animated Feature.

From the moment you start watching WolfWalkers, or any of Cartoon Saloon’s productions, for that matter, you’ll notice immediately that the animation style is nothing like the three-dimensional Disney/Pixar fare we’ve all grown accustomed to in recent decades. Moore’s dedication to the traditional craft of hand-drawn, 2-D…



Erik Devaney

Full-time stay-at-home dad, part-time ghostwriter, retired pub musician, recovering marketer